Nest Building Wood Stork

Wood Stork in Marsh Grass

Lets face it, not a lot of people spend time photographing and/or watching Wood Storks. They are not the most graceful of birds or the most beautiful. I started following the path of this one wood stork trying to watch and learn about its biology. It was very interesting to see how many different food sources it was able to pluck from the marsh grass.

Wood Stork Plucking Branches for Nest

As I came around to another part of the sanctuary I saw a few Wood Storks breaking branches off the surrounding trees in preparation for building a nest in the rookery. While these birds are awkward looking and not very graceful, you can see from this picture that they clearly have very good balance. This is particularly true given their really long legs. This bird uses them almost as stilts. I wish I had a chance to study the species while they were caring for their chicks. Maybe next year!

Images captured on Nikon D3x, 600mm f/4 on Lexar Digital Film.

Monday Musings – I Miss Italy!

Last summer we took a family vacation to Italy. The sights but more importantly the smells still resonate through my senses. These women were making orecchiette for the local restaurants and they were doing so with lightning speed. Just by looking at them I can taste the pasta with a little broccoli-rabe and garlic and oil ;-).

Orecchiette Makers
Pasta Maker

To me one of the best things about traveling is trying to photograph what locals take for granted. What exactly do I mean by that? I love to find interesting elements of everyday life that someone from the area walks past everyday and never really notices or admires. Below are 3 pictures that I feel capture that sentiment.

Church in Bari
Alley in Bari

Bari recently experienced several earthquakes that did some damage to the buildings that make up its rich heritage. I hope to be able to go back soon and revisit many of the sights I saw last summer.

Images captured with Nikon D700, 24-120 VR-I on Lexar Digital Film.

Great Blue Herons Nesting

I visited Wakodahatchee Wetlands in Delray Beach Florida back in March. It is a wonderful wildlife sanctuary. If I had any complaint about my time visiting it would be that the location gets very crowded and its difficult to lug around big glass and a tripod. Some of the locals use the boardwalk for their morning walks which adds to the crowds and the vibration on the deck. Not ideal for sharp images.

Great Blue Heron Profile

One of the species that really seems to thrive there are the Anhingas and Great Blue Herons.

Great Blue Heron Pair Building Nest

When I look at the image above, I almost think these 2 birds are human. Their gesture shows care for one another. It also shows cooperation as they build a home together (my wife would like more cooperation with the laundry). 😉 Its funny how at times, even a technically incorrect or poorly created image can still pull at your heat strings.

Great Blue Heron Mother and Chick

I observed at least 4 GBH nests as I walked the boardwalk at Wako.

Great Blue Heron Mother with Hungry Chick

This little guy was hidden in the bushes and very abruptly popped his head out of the next, looked around for a few minutes and demanded to be fed.

Images Captured with Nikon D3x, 600mm f/4 on Lexar Digital Film

White Breasted Nuthatch

This spring migration has been light in terms of species calling my property their home. It could be in part because of the hours I am keeping at work and the lack of food in the feeders :-(.

White Breasted Nuthatch Portrait

One species that seems to call our woods home year round is the White Breasted Nuthatch. White Breasted Nuthatches are active, agile birds with black, gray, and white markings. They are commonly found at feeders and dine on insects and large seeds.

White Breasted Nuthatch Ready to Jump

They also have big voices for such little birds, often making as much of a racket as Blue Jays.

White Breasted Nuthatch Sunset

Images Captured with Nikon D3x, 600mm f/4 on Lexar Digital Film

Blue Winged Teal

The Blue Winged Teal is one of the most beautiful of the dabbling ducks.

Blue Winged Teal Drake Coming Ashore

This species of duck travels vast distances during its migration. It is the first of the species to head north in the spring and one of the very first species of any bird to head south in the fall. The Blue Winged Teal covers migration distances that range from Canada and Northern USA to South America.

Blue Winged Teal Drake Catching Some Rays
Happy Couple

Captured with Nikon D3x, 600mm f/4 w/TC-14eII on Lexar Digiatl Film

Boat Tailed Grackle

The Boat Tailed Grackle is one of those bird species where the female is as beautiful as the male.

Female Boat Tailed Grackle Preening

One of the things I love about photographing birds in Florida is that my hit ratio or “keepers” are better because the concentration of birds is higher and they seem to be more habituated to humans than those in the Northeast (at least thats what I tell my wife :-))

Female Boat Tailed Grackle Bathing

These images were taken just at sunset. In fact the image below was taken in overcast conditions, otherwise it was a gloriously sunny day.

Male Boat Tailed Grackle

Its hard to appreciate the iridescence of the males feathers but they are stunning.

Male Boat Tailed Grackle Over Shoulder Portrait

Images captured with Nikon D3x, 600mm f/4 w/TC-14e II on Lexar digital film.

Enjoying the Sun

We are not God’s only creatures that enjoy the sun. (Don’t know if you can tell from this small image but there is a dragon fly on the alligators nose, also sunning itself :-))

American Alligator

Here are some facts about the American Alligator:

The American Alligator is the largest reptile in North America. It has a large, dark (usually black), slightly rounded body and thick limbs. Unlike the crocodile, the alligator has a broad head. The alligator uses its powerful tail to propel itself through water. The tail accounts for half the alligator’s length. While alligators move very quickly in water, they are generally slow-moving on land. American alligators mainly eat fish, turtles, various mammals, birds and other reptiles.

While they do not have vocal cords, male alligators bellow loudly to attract mates and warn off other males by sucking air into their lungs and blowing it out in intermittent, deep-toned roars.

In 1987, Florida declared the alligator their official state reptile!

Image captured with Nikon D3x, 600mm f/4 w/TCe-2.0 III on Lexar Digital Film.

Green Heron, The Hunter

Which image do you like better?

Green Heron Hunting, Extended

I think I like the first image best as you don’t often get to see a Green Heron fully extended. Seeing the neck muscles bulging makes the image.

Green Heron Hunting, Aiming

What I don’t like about either of these 2 images is that the branch crosses the birds beak. I takes what would have been a lovely image given the beautiful background and screws it up. I hate when that happens. Thats why wildlife photographers have to have a lot of patience, you need to put your time in behind the camera to have an opportunity to get the shot. Then you still might not get what you want! Wildlife photography reminds me a lot of the instructions on the shampoo bottle, wet, wash, rinse, repeat. We do a lot of repeating in wildlife photography!

Images captured on a Nikon D3x w 600mm f/4 w TC-14e II on Lexar digital film.

Tricolored Heron at Sunrise

Tricolored Heron at Sunrise

Im not sure why I like this image so much, but I do. Maybe its how the light falls on the birds feathers on the right, or the sparkle in its eye. Maybe its the majesty implied by the way he sits in this tree. Either way, it is one of my favorite images from my recent trip.

Image captured with Nikon D3x w600mm f/4 on Lexar digital film.

Monday Musings – American Coot

I love Florida. My wife has a hard time understanding my love affair with the Sunshine State but I just can’t stop enjoying the wildlife and nature opportunities Florida offers.

American Coot Reflection

Thanks to many of you who answered my request for your favorite birding locations on the east coast of Florida, I had a wonderful 2 days of birding. One of my favorite locations was Wakodahatchee Wetlands. I will post a site report on this location shortly.

American Coot

Wakodahatchee Wetlands certainly has made it to one of my favorite Florida birding locations. One of the species that was abundant at the wetlands was the American Coot.

American Coot Calling

This member of the rail family is often confused with a duck. Like many of the species at the wetlands, the Coots that I observed, were habituated to the goings on of the vast boardwalk which made them fairly easy to photograph and observe.

American Coot with Grass

Images Captured with Nikon D3X, 600mm f/4 on Lexar Digital Film